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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian stocks' three-day rally ended on Monday, amid market concerns that any potential stimulus measures announced this week by central bankers in the United States and Europe may not be implemented right away.
Investors were given a shot of adrenaline last week when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank was ready to do whatever was necessary, within its mandate, to save the euro.
But some of the optimism for meaningful stimulus faded on Monday after ECB insiders said bold actions, including resuming ECB's bond-buying program and even pursuing quantitative easing, are at least five weeks away.
"Draghi's comments were positive, but no one is willing to bet the farm on any of these things happening," said Irwin Michael, portfolio manager at ABC Funds. "The market remains in 'Sleepy Hollow' mode -- no-one is doing anything."
Canada's resource-heavy Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE settled little changed, with half of its 10 main sectors ending lower.
Leading the declines were top oil producers Suncor Energy (SU.TO), down 1.6 percent at C$31.39 and Cenovus Energy (CVE.TO), which fell 1.3 percent to C$31.15. Top fertilizer maker Potash Corp (POT.TO) dropped 2 percent to C$44.98 and copper miner First Quantum Minerals (FM.TO) shed 1.9 percent at C$18.25.
Ivanhoe Mines Ltd (IVN.TO) slid 2.7 percent to C$8.54 after Rio Tinto Plc (RIO.AX) (RIO.L) said on Monday it paid about $935 million for 133.6 million shares, or 51 percent of the stock the Canadian miner put up in a rights offering.
Canadian Oil Sands Ltd COS.TO edged down 1.2 percent to C$20.74 after the pipeline company announced after the close on Friday that its second-quarter profit sank 71 percent due to major plant maintenance that reduced production, lower oil prices and higher operating costs.
Shares turned lower after a meeting between U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Monday failed to produce any concrete details about how the euro zone would tackle the debt crisis.
Canadian financial shares slipped 0.1 percent after credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on Canada's biggest banks down to "negative" from "stable." [ID:nL2E8IU6LI] Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD.TO) led losses, falling 0.6 percent to C$79.03.
Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) sank 0.9 percent to C$10.70, as the market anticipated Canada's largest life insurer will likely post a loss for the second quarter when it reports later this week.
The TSX finished down 8.48 points, or 0.1 percent, at 11,757.88. The index retreated after touching 11,803.78, its highest level since July 5.
"A lot of people are watching as to whether Canada can get through the 12,000 mark," said Sid Mokhtari, market technician and director, institutional equity research, CIBC World Markets.
The level remains a key "psychological" barrier for the index, which last crossed the threshold back in early May.
Losses were trimmed by gold miners, which were lifted by hopes of further stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Barrick Gold (ABX.TO), the world's top gold producer, rose 1.9 percent to C$33.10, Eldorado Gold (ELD.TO) was up 2.5 percent at C$11.38, and Agnico Eagle (AEM.TO) rose 2.4 percent to C$44.44.
Speculation has grown that the Fed will do more to bolster the recovery after recent data on Friday showed U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product expanded at a 1.5 percent annual rate, the weakest pace since the third quarter of 2011. But many believe the Fed will wait until September to provide more stimulus.
"Up until this morning the market was willing to give the monetary authorities the benefit of the doubt that they'd probably be doing some form of quantitative easing," said ABC Funds' Michael.
Editing by Gary Crosse